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[Fwd: The Gospel On Gay Marriage]

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  • wjf@bellsouth.net
    I offer this little email as FYI but it is worth reading.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2005
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      I offer this little email as FYI but it is worth reading.

      > crichmond@...
      > EarthLink Revolves Around You.
      >
      > The Gospel On Gay Marriage
      > By Letha Dawson Scanzoni, AlterNet
      > Posted on June 16, 2005, Printed on June 20, 2005
      > http://www.alternet.org/story/22241/
      > In his book, "God's Politics," Jim Wallis wrote about how the religious
      > right has narrowed faith-based values to a few "hot-button" issues, while
      > ignoring the biblical vision of social justice in areas such as poverty, the
      > environment, and questions of war and peace.
      >
      > But hot-button issues like same-sex marriage can't be cast aside at a time
      > when influential religious leaders are rallying the troops for a war against
      > a minority group already suffering the pain of discrimination. Chuck Colson
      > has trumpeted the battle cry by saying that the "number one cultural
      > priority of Christians" should be "stopping the spread of same-sex marriage"
      > and that "pastors, priests, and clergy of all denominations should be
      > leading the charge."
      >
      > Before dismissing the religious right, progressives may find it helpful to
      > learn more about them -- particularly that group the media lump together as
      > "the evangelicals," a term that has been hijacked from its original meaning
      > of "good news." Because of this, many people now associate the term with
      > wealth, political power, militarism, judgmentalism, intolerance, and an
      > arrogance that is totally contrary to the spirit of the gospel (and contrary
      > to those who retain the original meaning of "evangelical").
      >
      > The hope of finding open-mindedness within the religious right may seem
      > futile, especially since its prominent spokespersons claim they are being
      > persecuted for their faith whenever their particular constellation of values
      > is questioned. Back in 1985, when the religious right first began increasing
      > its cultural and political influence, I wrote an article suggesting that
      > instead of viewing the conservative Christian movement as a monolithic
      > entity, we need to recognize at least four major categories within the
      > movement:
      >
      >
      > a.. Aggressive Combatants, who mobilize their followers to go to battle
      > against whatever they consider to be the current threat (most recently,
      > same-sex marriage);
      >
      >
      > b.. Loyal Followers, who consider the Combatants to be their religious
      > authorities, buying their books, tuning in to their broadcasts, accepting
      > their interpretations of the Bible, and responding to their fundraising
      > pleas;
      >
      >
      > c.. Thoughtful Questioners, who were drawn to the movement by its emphasis
      > on a personal relationship with God and the importance of the Bible in their
      > lives but are not convinced that all issues are settled or that all the
      > answers are already in;
      >
      >
      > d.. Hurting Strugglers, sincere believers who earnestly practiced their
      > faith and followed the rules they had been taught, yet were faced with some
      > circumstance that turned their well-ordered world upside down -- a divorce,
      > a gay child, a pregnant teenager, domestic violence, mental illness, job
      > loss, bankruptcy, a suicide in the family.
      >
      > What progressives need to recognize is that Thoughtful Questioners and
      > Hurting Strugglers may be more receptive to new ideas than is often
      > realized. Even some Loyal Followers may move over into one of these
      > categories at some point. But to communicate with them, it's important to
      > first acknowledge how much their religion matters to them and then seek out
      > areas of common concern and mutually held values.
      >
      > Second, an awareness of alternative approaches to biblical interpretation
      > can help progressives resist the temptation to ridicule sincere people of
      > faith as unenlightened "Bible thumpers."
      >
      > In applying these principles to the same-sex marriage question, the right
      > and left can find common ground in recognizing the human need to belong and
      > the desire for legally conferred kinship status on chosen, committed life
      > partners. We can affirm the message of marriage supporters in their valuing
      > and promotion of marriage, while at the same time challenging the notion
      > that including gays and lesbians in marriage would make heterosexual
      > marriages weaker.
      >
      > Might not opening marriage to gays instead add weight to the importance of
      > monogamy and the idea that love, commitment and sex belong together in the
      > legally recognized relationship called marriage?
      >
      > Might not same-sex marriage therefore strengthen the institution as a whole?
      >
      > Listening to the moving stories of gay and lesbian couples who have longed
      > for the recognition, rights and responsibilities of marriage in their 10,
      > 20, or even 50 years together could counter unfounded conspiracy theories
      > such as James Dobson's charge in Marriage Under Fire that most gays and
      > lesbians don't really want to be married but are actually advancing a gay
      > marriage initiative as part of a 60-year plan to destroy the family.
      >
      > The right has also framed the religious aspects of the debate by
      > dogmatically asserting that the "Bible condemns homosexuality" -- a
      > statement accepted unquestioningly, repeated in the media, and asserted even
      > in political discourse. Progressives seem to have no way to respond except
      > to toss out the Bible as irrelevant, which turns off many religious people
      > immediately and plays into the hands of those who want discrimination built
      > into the constitution.
      >
      > It's important for people of faith to know that the Bible doesn't condemn
      > "homosexuality." Neither the term nor the concept was known in biblical
      > times.
      >
      > Sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual, has been shown by
      > scientists to be a natural disposition -- a normal variant like handedness.
      > In the few Scripture verses mentioning same-sex acts, the emphasis is on
      > gang rape, exploitation and idolatry. Nothing is said about loving,
      > committed, same-sex relationships. Faulty translations have muddied the
      > waters further.
      >
      > People of faith on the left and on the right need to find ways to
      > communicate about such matters. Only then can we reach out to one another
      > with open arms rather than tensed muscles or raised fists.
      >
      > Letha Dawson Scanzoni is co-author, with David G. Myers, of "What God Has
      > Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage," just published by
      > HarperSanFrancisco.
      >
      > ? 2005 Independent Media Institute.
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
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